WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The United States, the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries signed the US-DR-CAFTA trade pact Thursday in Washington.
With this agreement, the Dominican Republic joins the Central American Free Trade Agreement signed earlier this year with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
The U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement creates the second-largest free-trade zone in Latin America for U.S. exports.
The agreement will eliminate 80 percent of tariffs immediately, and phases out remaining tariffs over 10 years.
Eighty percent of DR-CAFTA imports already enter the United States duty free. The DR-CAFTA levels the playing field by expanding access for U.S. products and services.
In 2003, the U.S. exported $15 billion of goods to the Dominican Republic and Central American countries. Combined total goods trade between the U.S. and the original five CAFTA countries was $23.6 billion in 2003.
The addition of the Dominican Republic represents an additional $8.7 billion in annual two-way trade, for a combined total trade relationship of approximately $32 billion.